Can You Make Money Online Without Selling Your Soul?

Making Money Online

Editor's Note: Hi everyone – I'm so excited to welcome Lindy from MintingNickels.com! She has agreed to become a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder and will be sharing her own, unique spin on how to make extra money each week. Enjoy…

Call it a case of being too-cooped-up as I wait for the 1000 degree heat wave to pass, but lately I've been hit with an all-encompassing need to create something.

So the other night I dug through my craft cabinet, pulled out my long-ago forgotten jars of ink, and sat down to release my inner artist. But alas, I had no paper.

The last time I did a pen and ink drawing was in 2001. Though I'd scratched out several masterpieces in black and white back then, I never found a paper I was fully satisfied with. They all seemed to pill and tear at the sharpness of my pen.

Now, it may be hard to believe, but back in 2001 the Internet was still in its toddlerhood. Thus, my only option for getting answers to my paper dilemma was to ask someone who worked at the art store. But those art store employees, with their hip, torn jeans and their better-than-thou attitudes intimidated the crap out of me. The shy girl of my youth avoided them like the plague.

Luckily I don't have that same problem today. The Internet is now deep and wide, and it can answer pretty much anything I ask. So the other night I asked my friend Internet what kind of paper I should use for my ink drawings.

The Internet responded, as it usually does. Only this time, instead of giving me the quality answer I had hoped for, it gave me one as bad as my arch-nemesis, the Art Store Employee. The Internet gave me a niche site.

Whether you've heard of a niche site or not, I'm certain most of you have encountered one or two. A niche site (pronounced neesh, rhymes with sheesh, not nitch, rhymes with hitch) is a blog or website focused on one narrow topic – like art supplies. It's usually one of the first sites to show up in a search result, and its sole purpose is to get you, the information seeker, to click one of its ads, which are often cleverly disguised as part of its content. Click an ad, and the niche site owner makes a few bucks.

Now normally, I wouldn't have a problem with this type of transaction. However, it's often the case that the niche site doesn't actually answer my question. It's filled with ads and links and barrels of content that promise to give me valuable information, but it usually just wastes my time.

As a user, soulless niche sites are my biggest pet peeve. And as a blogger who has dabbled in the art of making money online, I know their number. I know there are droves of people trying to make money with niche sites right now. I know many of them are willing to write (or hire someone to write) pages and pages of content on something they know little-to-nothing about in hopes of making some extra cash, or better yet, the pinnacle of all types of income – passive income.

In short, whenever I encounter a niche site, I shake my fist and move on.

And yet, I'm building one as we speak.

Call it the siren pull of passive income. Call it having an idea I just have to follow. Call it a case of being too cooped-up from the summer heat. But there's one thing you won't call my niche site, and that's soulless.

I'm building a niche site with soul – one that will be incredibly useful, on a topic I know plenty about. And maybe I'll make a little cash while I'm at it. I figure it will be a good test, anyways, to see if it's possible to make money without selling out. I'll keep you all posted.

So what do you think Penny Hoarders? Is it possible to make money online without compromising quality? Am I being too hard on niche sites?

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